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Morning or afternoon? Afternoon or evening?
Whenever the opportunity allows?
These are a few of the frequently asked questions when it comes to working out. What is the best time, the most beneficial time to get that workout in?
Research suggests there is no perfect answer.
“Let's get this out of the way first: The best time to work out is whenever you can,” Amanda Capritto wrote in an article for CNET.com.
Capritto is a certified personal trainer and health coach who writes about health, fitness, nutrition and medicine.
“Both morning and evening exercise have health benefits and potential pitfalls, but for most people, the right time to exercise is not about how many calories you burn or how much weight you lift — it's more about how you feel when exercising and how exercise fits into your daily schedule,” she writes. then emphasizes again ...
“The best time to exercise is whenever you can, but the best-best time of day to exercise is the time you can stick with for days, weeks and months.”
That’s an important detail. The best time to work out is when you can do it and do it consistently.
There is lots of research, however, and most of it points to morning workouts.
“Working out in the morning — especially on an empty stomach — is the best way to burn stored fat, making it ideal for weight loss,” an article at Time notes. “That’s largely because the body’s hormonal composition in the morning is set up to support that goal, says Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
“’In the early morning hours, you have a hormonal profile that would predispose you to better metabolism of fat,” Hackney said.
“People naturally have elevated levels of cortisol and growth hormone in the morning — both of which are involved in metabolism — so you’ll “’draw more of your energy from your fat reserves.”
“That can potentially help with weight loss. Research also suggests that morning exercisers may have less of an appetite throughout the day, which could also help protect them from putting on pounds.”
But, as Capritto noted in her article, it’s not always about burning fat. It’s about what works best for your schedule — around work, around running kids around, around other social activities.
“The fact of the matter is that people who exercise consistently see better weight loss and fitness results in the long-term,” she wrote. “Research also suggests that your body can adapt to regular training schedules, so if you work out every morning, you will probably get a lot better at working out in the morning, and the same in regard to nighttime workouts.”
There are benefits and drawbacks to working out in the morning,
“... People who exercise in the morning are often more consistent simply because morning workouts leave less room for excuses,” Capritto writes.
It also “may improve your sleep cycle: Waking up early might be difficult at first, but research suggests that a morning exercise habit can shift your circadian rhythm so that your body is naturally more alert in the morning and more tired in the evening, so you fall asleep earlier and can exercise in the morning again. ...”
It also might burn more fat, make you more productive and boost your mood throughout the day, according to the article.
“Though a morning exercise habit can be a powerful part of a healthy lifestyle, early morning workouts have their drawbacks, too,” Capritto writes. “When you exercise first thing in the morning, a few things can make your workout a little wonky.”
She lists “running on low fuel ... you may interrupt deep sleep ... physical performance isn't at its peak ... it takes longer to warm up.”
She also write about the benefits and pitfalls of afternoon and/or evening workouts.
“Your physical performance might improve,” she wrote. “Research shows that most people function better, physically speaking, later in the day. Muscle strength, flexibility, power output and endurance are all better in the evening than they are in the morning. Plus, people who exercise in the evening take up to 20 percent longer to reach the point of exhaustion.”
She also notes your “body gets warmer as the day goes on ... hormones are on your side ... late-day exercise can relieve stress ... and might help replace bad habits.”
“The above benefits to afternoon and evening workouts might automatically tempt you to designate the latter part of the day to exercise, but you should consider a couple of potential downsides, too,” she writes.
Later workouts “might interfere with sleep ... and may cause problems with consistency.”
That, as Capritto noted early in her article, is the most important part. Whatever you do — walking, running, biking, strength training, etc., or a combination of all — be consistent.
“If you're like many people, exercising at night may not work for you simply because you are too tired after a long day,” Capritto noted. “Afternoon and evening workouts might interfere with daily responsibilities, especially if things tend to pile up during the day.
“If that sounds like you, try shifting your daily routine to fit in a short morning workout.”
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